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Sixth Circuit Upholds Right of County Commission to Pray Before Meetings

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion this week in Bormuth v. County of Jackson in which it upheld the right of the Jackson County (Michigan) Board of Commissioners to open its meetings with a prayer. The prayers were offered by commissioners on a rotating basis, and while most were given from a Christian perspective, there was no evidence of discriminatory intent in establishing the practice.

The Plaintiff, Peter Bormuth, a self-described “Pagan and Animist” claimed that the prayers were “severely offensive” and felt he was being required to “worship Jesus Christ in order to participate in the business of County Government.”

The court recognized the long tradition of legislative bodies opening meetings in prayer as well as two Supreme Court decisions that were on point.

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Praying High School Football Coach Loses Case in Appeals Court

Bremerton High School football coach Joe Kennedy used to kneel in prayer at the 50-yard line after football games with anyone who wanted to voluntarily join him on the field. But coach Kennedy not only lost that privilege, he also got suspended from his position by the Washington state school district and his contract was not renewed. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that coach Kennedy “took advantage” of his position as a teacher and a coach by praying after games. The judges declared that Kennedy acted to “press his particular views upon impressionable and captive minds before him.”

Kennedy is standing by his First Amendment rights, and his legal counsel is considering whether to petition for a rehearing or ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

Meanwhile, Franklin Graham is calling all high school football coaches to pray after their games this Friday in support of coach Kennedy. “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that coaches can’t pray or make religious gestures on the field after a game,” wrote Graham on his Facebook page last Friday. “These progressive activist judges have gone too far.”

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40 Days for Life Begins

More than 200,000 prayer volunteers with 40 Days for Life will stand and pray outside abortion clinics and hospitals in 340 cities and 30 countries from Ash Wednesday through April 9, and we need to be praying for this worldwide right-to-life effort. As Shawn Carney, the president of 40 Days for Life, explains, “The hatred of Donald Trump is being directed at the pro-life movement. The climate is much more hostile to our movement.” The good news is that so far, 83 abortion facilities have closed their doors after 40 Days vigils were held.

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TN Legislative Prayer Caucus Focuses on Religious Liberty

Started midway through last year’s legislative session, the Tennessee Legislative Prayer Caucus is a nonpartisan weekly prayer group open to all lawmakers. As part of the national Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, the group at the state Capitol boasts about 30 members and is focused on preserving religious liberty, upholding the nation’s Christian values, and prayer.

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